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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 464921, 8 pages
Review Article

Oxidation of Marine Omega-3 Supplements and Human Health

1Liggins Institute, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
2Gravida: National Centre for Growth and Development, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland 1142, New Zealand

Received 15 February 2013; Revised 4 April 2013; Accepted 9 April 2013

Academic Editor: Gabriella Calviello

Copyright © 2013 Benjamin B. Albert et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Marine omega-3 rich oils are used by more than a third of American adults for a wide range of purported benefits including prevention of cardiovascular disease. These oils are highly prone to oxidation to lipid peroxides and other secondary oxidation products. Oxidized oils may have altered biological activity making them ineffective or harmful, though there is also evidence that some beneficial effects of marine oils could be mediated through lipid peroxides. To date, human clinical trials have not reported the oxidative status of the trial oil. This makes it impossible to understand the importance of oxidation to efficacy or harm. However, animal studies show that oxidized lipid products can cause harm. Oxidation of trial oils may be responsible for the conflicting omega-3 trial literature, including the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The oxidative state of an oil can be simply determined by the peroxide value and anisidine value assays. We recommend that all clinical trials investigating omega-3 harms or benefits report the results of these assays; this will enable better understanding of the benefits and harms of omega-3 and the clinical importance of oxidized supplements.